The Miami Heat did the Raptors a big favor on Saturday in Miami by demolishing the visiting Cavs 122-101 and Toronto needs to take advantage at home against the 29-39 Orlando Magic on Sunday in order to close to within a single game of the heavily favored front runners.
The recurring theme out of Cleveland this season has been this team gets tired and as reported on ESPN after the game, LeBron James is getting a little concerned.
“I think the pace, we couldn’t keep up with it tonight,” James said. “Whether it was our fifth game in seven nights, we couldn’t keep up with their pace.”
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst followed up with,
“The way they’ve beat us here is a little concerning if we face them [in the playoffs],” James said after Saturday’s loss. “I think we’ll be ready for it more. We didn’t play [up to our] potential. We didn’t play our game. We let them play their game, and they took it to us.”
With the Heat hanging around the three, four, five hole, facing them in the postseason is a very real possibility for the Cavaliers.
However, the second round of the playoffs probably shouldn’t be uppermost in James’ mind. Since “the team” fired coach David Blatt with a 30-11 record on January 22, the Cavs have gone 19-9 under new head coach Tyronn Lue. Apparently “being tired” wasn’t a coaching problem.
Playing the role of Captain Obvious, Lue said, “We need to start getting up for these games.”
The Raptors have split the season series with Orlando 1-1 and this young team has talent that can explode for points at any moment. Victor Oladipo scored 45 points on the Cavs Friday night.
Take the Magic lightly and the 47-21 Raptors could waste this opportunity. Toronto can’t afford to punt any games if they hope to catch the 49-20 Cavaliers for first in the East.
- Team Canada forward Andrew Nicholson plays for the Magic.
- Center Nikola Vucevic has missed the past seven games with a groin strain.
- Elfrid Payton (elbow) has missed the last five games.
Catching the Cavs will be tough and the race could be over soon if the Raptors are the team to stumble over the next couple of weeks, but if they can hang in there somehow, it’s the Cavaliers who’ll be tested. First place in the East could be up for grabs right up until the last week of the season.